Big White Cars

Some really happy times in my life were spent riding around in big white cars.  (“One Great Waitress” got me thinking about that.)  They were Cadillacs.  My grandparents did love their big white Cadillacs.  My earliest memory may be of the very first one ever purchased.  I was a little girl, I was standing on their driveway looking in at it… all four doors flung open… and I think we were all oohing and ahhhing like a chorus on cue.

But the earliest riding-in-one memory is heading down the highway to the mountains of Ruidoso.  We’d stop in Roswell at the Baskin-Robbins, which Nana just referred to as “31 Flavors”.  She always ordered butter-pecan, so I always ordered butter-pecan, and then we’d be back on the road.  You drive through the Hondo Valley to get to Ruidoso.  It’s a winding road, and Granddad had a heavy foot.  I can see it all quite clearly in my mind’s eye.  After all, I had a great view… right up front, perched nice and high on my booster seat… those fancy pull-down arm rests.  Oh my, those of us who grew up before the age of car seats and seat belts had a thrilling life, didn’t we!  We’d go around a bend, Nana would throw the protective arm out in front of me, and call out, “Dad!  Slow down!”   Loved those trips!

Mainly I rode in the backseat, mostly it was for three specific types of outings.  Going to check the crops.  Going to have a look at new construction.  Going to a restaurant.  As a child, I just couldn’t imagine anything more boring than going to check the crops, but I’d sure love to have another trip to a peanut field today.  We were in our twenties when we moved back to Portales the first time and built our first house.  I was on the site when I saw this long white Cadillac pulling slowly up in front of the house and coming to a halt.  And there sat Nana and Granddad, waving.  How about that!  They were out on a drive to check the new construction in town.  But my favorite drives of all were the countless trips to El Monterrey, The Wagon Wheel, and La Hacienda.

Granddad always drove, and even in summer, he loved to pull on gloves.  So that’s the ritual in my mind.  Climb into the backseat, watch him put on those gloves, then back out of the garage and head off to a restaurant… in-town driving much different than going-down-the-highway driving.  Going down the highway was always at a mighty fast clip.  In town… pretty much just idling down the road at 10 miles per hour.  Finally, Granddad turned the keys over to others.  (And that was a great thing, because riding along in the backseat grows a little frightening as the years go by.)  I took my turn driving the white Cadillac to the restaurants, and my Granddad did one magnificent job of being a backseat driver!

20 Responses to “Big White Cars”

  1. Sandy says:

    Always special when you share a birthday with someone. February 12… always a great day for my Granddad Borden and my sister. Happy Birthday Kim!

  2. Sheryl Borden says:

    We need to ask Robbie to write his recollections of riding in the big while Cadillac — they’re similar
    to yours in many ways, but (like you) he has a unique way of telling the tale! Thanks for the memories of the big white cars.

  3. Sandy says:

    The last time we were together, we laughed about riding up high on those arm rests and Nana throwing out the “safety arm”.

  4. KIm Mann says:

    What great memories! Did anyone else ever ride to the top of Sierra Blanca road in the big white Cadillac with Granddad at the wheel? That will stick with you for life!!! Fun times 🙂

  5. Sandy says:

    Oh my goodness… if I did I think I must have blocked it out of my mind! The Hondo Valley was enough for me!

  6. bette says:

    Laughing out loud. My kids would fight about whose turn it was to sit on the “perch.” And, by the way, I still on occasions, throw out the “safety arm” when Tyler is riding with me. Those were the days before seat belts. Amazing that they survived.

  7. Mark Mann says:

    Great tribute! Brings back wonderful memories. Thanks Sistie (or is it Sisty?)

  8. Sandy says:

    I think it’s with an “ie” Mark! =)
    Wonderful days!

  9. Doug Young says:

    When I was 11, my grandfather started paying me to drive them from Aransas Pass TX to San Antonio TX in their brown Mercury Comet. Thanks for taking me back in time.

  10. Mary Anne says:

    I often think about my children riding in my parent’s Oldsmobile on one of the pull down arm rest as I buckle my grandchildren into their car seats. I have one in my car that my “granddoll” gets to be buckled into and ride. Thank goodness the children haven’t thought that they could ride there.

  11. Katie Howell says:

    I loved riding in the Cadillac! Nana always let me sit on the arm rest in the back seat! I knew she wasn’t worried about me not wearing a seatbelt since we were only going about 8 miles an hour! Great times!

  12. Gary FIelds says:

    Ahh… riding along in the back of a pickup on the tail gate! The challenge was always to reach a leg out and try to touch the pavement. Sometimes we would hold the handle of the lawnmower and wheel it backwards to the next yard we mowed. # 1 survivor of childhood!

  13. lawanda calton says:

    Thanks Sandy, for the vivid memories of “the car”! I’m “driving” down memory lane, thanks to your story. So glad I could be the driver for Mom and Dad in the last year of their lives.

  14. Betty Wiggs says:

    Oh the memories of riding in cars with our grandparents. Thanks for sharing. I never had a Cadillac to ride in, but I remember Granny and Grandad Borden’s cars. They were awesome. Always Chevorlets, until Granny bought the rambler. It was a white ramber!

  15. Sandy says:

    I remember that car!
    We are so fortunate to have digital cameras, snapping thousands of photos. Thankful to have these pictures in my mind’s eye!

  16. Marcea Clive says:

    Thanks for reminding us of the “safety arm” we all had before seatbelts. There are times I still automatically try to use mine……….

  17. Lori says:

    Love these memories! I used to love to ride on the front armrest, too! That protective arm flew across me, even just riding in the front seat, in my memory almost every day! When we went on long trips, my parents used to put a crib mattress in the back seat and we played all the way down the road so comfortably! When we got older, we rode behind the back seat in the window or on the floor.

  18. Harold Don says:

    Nothing about cars, but memories of Saturday afternoons on the square in Portales, sitting in the back seat of granny and grandads car with the “in case of emergency” coffee can close at hand, watching people go by and the men sitting on the hood or leaning on a parking meter talking about the weather. And then when we got bigger we sometimes would get to go a movie (sometimes two) at the Yam or Kiva and later on at the Tower. Tickets were ten cents and candy bar was a nickel. We used to have cream to sell at Price’s Creamery which we used for the movies. The last car I remember of granny and grandad’s was the black and yellow Chevrolet with the license number “1884” the year of grandad’s birth. Such a long time ago.

  19. Sandy says:

    Thanks for sharing all the memories! Love reading them!!!

  20. Pam says:

    Every summer, my parents would load all seven of us kids up in our station wagon and drive all the way to Mississippi for vacation to see his side of the family. Three of my sisters and I would get the very back end. I always got the spot closest to the back seat and remember staring at a mole on my brother’s head for 1000 miles. Gross! haha Those times in the back of the station wagon were so much fun!

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